America’s Socialist Experiment is a one-hour documentary that lends itself to local and national discussions with citizens, elected officials, students, and scholars talking about the impact of socialism’s past and future. The goal is to bring this too-little-known story to life for a new generation.
The producers of America’s Socialist Experiment tell the city’s story through the lens of those who know it best: local historians, political observers, family members, and life-long Wisconsin residents. They offer their perspectives on why Milwaukee’s brand of socialism succeeded for a time, what it looked like in daily life, and why it ended.
The film was produced by Mike Gousha, distinguished fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School, former Milwaukee television news anchor and reporter, and one of Wisconsin’s most respected journalists, and Lynn Sprangers, an award-winning journalist who has served in executive capacities in sports, higher education and performing arts. For this project, Gousha and Sprangers teamed up with fellow Wisconsinites Steve Boettcher and Mike Trinklein, producers of more than 30 hours of national primetime PBS films, including Pioneers of Television, The Gold Rush, Martin Luther, and Robin Williams Remembered.
Steve Boettcher is a five-time Emmy-winning filmmaker who created the popular PBS series Pioneers of Television. After Pioneers, Boettcher began a series of ambitious documentaries, each featuring a single iconic celebrity. The first, Robin Williams Remembered, was one of PBS’ top-rated shows of the year. That film was followed by Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration, and Betty White: First Lady of Television, which aired on PBS in August 2018 to widespread praise. Boettcher also has a long history producing historical films, including The Gold Rush, The Oregon Trail, and Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World. Boettcher has negotiated deals to air his programs on a range of outlets, including PBS, Netflix, Amazon, NBC, and many international channels. He’s also been successful in theatrical distribution—the Martin Luther film was seen on more than 1,000 movie screens in 2017, making it one of the most popular documentary releases of the year.
Mike Gousha serves as a distinguished fellow in law and public policy at Marquette University Law School. An award-winning journalist, Gousha explores important public policy issues through his work at the Lubar Center for Public Policy Research and Civic Education. He is the host of the Law School's "On the Issues" conversation series and has been the solo moderator of numerous political debates, including the final debate of Wisconsin's historic 2012 recall election for Governor. Gousha spent 40 years in broadcast journalism, most recently, as a contributing anchor and political analyst for WISN-TV in Milwaukee and host of the weekly Sunday morning program "UpFront with Mike Gousha," on Wisconsin ABC affiliates.
Lynn Sprangers spent nearly twenty years in broadcast journalism, including Chief Political Reporter for WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and co-host of the popular “Weekend” program on Wisconsin Public TV. She’s received many journalism awards, including a prestigious duPont-Columbia award for a program on women in politics, and has been honored as a Woman of Influence by the Milwaukee Business Journal for her work to support and elevate women in her community. She also held executive roles with the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, the Milwaukee County Executive’s Office, Mount Mary University and the Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts.
Thrice nominated for an Emmy Award, Mike Trinklein co-produced and wrote all 16 episodes of PBS Pioneers of Television series—plus the 1-hour docs Robin Williams Remembered and Mary Tyler Moore: A Celebration. Trinklein also wrote and produced the 2-hour drama/doc on the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther: The Idea that Changed the World that aired nationally on PBS in 2017 (and is currently on Netflix). In addition, Trinklein also writes books and articles—and served as a university professor for nearly 20 years. He’s written for the Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Time Magazine, and The Federalist. He’s been interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered and Here and Now, and has appeared on television talk shows including Stossel —and a full hour on C-SPAN.